New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses – that of the North Island
, and the South Island, and numerous smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 1,500 kilometres (900 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea. and roughly 1,000 kilometers (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia,Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long isolation, New Zealand developed a distinctive biodiversity of animal, fungal and plant life. The country’s varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southernisms, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand’s capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.
New Zealand is a small country, similar in size to Great Britain or Japan. With a population of only four million people it’s also gloriously uncrowded.
During your travel in New Zealand, it’s the rugged natural beauty that stands out: spectacular glaciers, picturesque fjords, endless coastlines, steamy geothermal activity and so much more. Its breathtaking landscapes combined with its unique Maori culture, friendly cosmopolitan cities and fabulous food and wine comprise the two remarkable islands the “Kiwis” lovingly call home. New Zealand tours provide a haven for those seeking peace, rejuvenation and relaxation, yet also offer a veritable playground for the adventurous. The temperate climate makes it an ideal year-round destination.
Cross the International Dateline and begin the adventure of a lifetime by skipping a day ahead.
Cairns, Australia – Tour Begins
Your tour opens in Cairns – the tropical gateway to one of the world’s most spectacular natural attractions and a World Heritage site – the Great Barrier Reef. Established as a marine park in 1975, the reef is a haven for thousands of species of sea life, as well as turtles and birds.
Great Barrier Reef
The most biologically diverse ecosystem in the world awaits as you board a high speed catamaran for an exhilarating Great Barrier Reef excursion. Explore the reef from your base on Green Island. Enjoy a glass bottom boat ride*, stroll the island walking trails, relax on the beaches, snorkel or just watch the fish and sea turtles swim past from the pier. For a more adventurous encounter with the reef, optional scuba diving and an outer reef tour are also available.
Board the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for an unforgettable morning ride over the rainforest canopy. Embrace the opportunity to explore the forest floor up close with access to specially designed boardwalks. Your evening is at leisure to enjoy your tropical surroundings.
Cairns – Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Fly to Uluru (the Aboriginal name for Ayers Rock) in the heart of the Australian Outback. Tour the sandstone domes known as Kata Tjuta and the beautiful area surrounding the base of “The Rock.” Later, witness a stunning sunset over a glass of champagne as the Rock’s hues change dramatically with the setting sun.
Uluru – Alice Springs
A short flight over the “Red Centre” brings you to Alice Springs. Learn how people once communicated in the remote Outback during a sightseeing tour that includes a stop at the Old Telegraph Station, dating back to the 1800s. Visit School of the Air to find out more about the educational system of the Outback. There’s a chance of witnessing a class in session! Become locally invested this afternoon as you have the opportunity to meet the young Aboriginal group, Drum Atweme. Supported by Collette Cares**, Drum Atweme is a musical group comprised of at-risk youth from the local community. Tonight, continue your cultural immersion with a memorable bush dinner against a backdrop of the Southern Hemisphere’s stars.
Alice Springs – Darwin – Kakadu National Park
Access the history and culture of the Aboriginal people during a “Dreamtime Tour” where your specialist guide shares stories of creation and everyday Aboriginal life. You’ll even taste native cuisine. Later, board your flight to the city of Darwin on the northern edge of Australia and drive into the heart of Kakadu National Park.
Kakadu National Park
Today, enjoy the natural beauty of the “Top End.” Kakadu National Park is home to wallaroos and wallabies, monitors and lizards, crocodiles and birds of every imaginable variety. Witness artwork dating back thousands of years as you view Nourlangie Rock. During your afternoon cruise, be on the lookout for crocodiles as they bask in the sun, as well as waterfowl such as jabiru, egrets, herons and eagles.
Kakadu National Park – Darwin – Melbourne
Transfer to Darwin for your flight to the beautiful Victorian city of Melbourne.
Enjoy a city tour featuring Fitzroy Gardens, the Shrine of Remembrance and bustling Victoria Markets. Take some time at leisure to explore Melbourne independently. Later, travel to Phillip Island, a renowned nature reserve and home of the world’s largest colony of Little Penguins. Protected and studied by rangers, hundreds of them waddle out of the sea and cross the beach to their burrows in the dunes. At the interpretation center, you have a chance to learn about the lives of the Little Penguins and their significance to the region before enjoying access to the exclusive Penguins Plus viewing area.
Melbourne – Hobart
A flight to Hobart, Tasmania brings you to Australia’s second-oldest city. The rugged and pristine beauty of the island of Tasmania provides the backdrop to your two-night stay.
This morning brace yourself as you meet the Tasmanian Devil at the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Center! Learn about this unique marsupial, its fight for survival, and the efforts in place to save it from extinction. Later, take a guided tour of the Port Arthur Historic Site, the best-preserved example of Australia’s original penal colonies and home to stabilized ruins and restored buildings dating back to 1833. En route, witness the spectacular coastal rock formations known as Tasman Arch, Devil’s Kitchen and the Blow Hole.
Hobart – Sydney
Return to mainland Australia today and arrive in the bustling city of Sydney. Begin your Sydney adventure with dinner amid stunning views at the revolving 360 Restaurant, located atop the famous Sydney Tower.
Start your day with a tour of Sydney, birthplace of modern-day Australia. Highlights include Kings Cross, the Harbour Bridge, Chinatown, the Rocks, Circular Quay, the Botanic Gardens and the fashionable suburb of Paddington. Marvel at one of the world’s most fascinating architectural wonders during a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House. Then, discover the wonders of Sydney by using your free time to pursue your own interests. Stroll through the city streets, visit the historic Rocks area or simply relax.
This morning you visit Koala Park for an up-close and personal opportunity to learn about the different types of wildlife native to the land down under. You’ll walk amongst wallabies, indigenous birds, kangaroos, dingoes and other creatures. Experience the koala habitat where you can take your picture with a koala! Next, enjoy a unique experience as you learn firsthand about opals during a special presentation at the National Opal Collection. As you say your farewell to Australia, chat with new friends and take in the sights during a delightful dinner cruise of Sydney Harbour. Marvel at the scenic vistas the harbour has to offer including Sydney’s magnificent skyline and iconic attractions, the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
Sydney – Queenstown, New Zealand
Leave Australia behind and fly to one of the world’s best-kept secrets – New Zealand! Arrive in gorgeous Queenstown. This evening, enjoy dinner at the Skyline Restaurant where you will enjoy spectacular views overlooking Queenstown, the Remarkable Mountains and mysterious Lake Wakatipu.
Queenstown – Milford Sound – Queenstown
En route to Milford Sound, enjoy the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley. You’ll travel through ancient beech forest via the Homer Tunnel. During a cruise of the breathtakingly beautiful Milford Sound, you’ll see why this fjord is one of the most visited sights on the South Island. With rock faces that rise nearly 4,000 feet on either side, the scenery will take your breath away. Following your cruise you return to Queenstown. You may choose to return via a short optional flight (weather permitting) for spectacular views of New Zealand’s Southern Alps
Queenstown offers limitless diversions set amidst breathtaking Alpine scenery. Shop in the charming village center or enjoy an optional and exhilarating jet boat ride on the Shotover River. Or, perhaps you will join the optional “Journey through Middle Earth” tour which takes you through the majestic Remarkable Mountains and the breathtaking Queenstown countryside showcasing many of the spots where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed
Queenstown – Arrowtown – Mt. Cook National Park
Begin your day with a visit to the beautiful turn-of-the-century gold rush settlement of Arrowtown. Next, follow the Kawarau River and cross Lindis Pass before arriving in New Zealand’s most famous national park, Mt. Cook. There will be time to enjoy the Alpine paradise of Mt. Cook – a larger-than-life experience. You may choose to take a nature walk, enjoy an optional glacier flightseeing tour (weather permitting) or simply meditate on the beauty of the Southern Alps.
Mt. Cook – Christchurch
This morning, travel to the historic city of Christchurch. Devastated by an earthquake in early 2011, see firsthand how the city known as “the Garden City” is recreating itself. Enjoy some free time to explore. Stroll the city’s magnificent gardens or learn its more recent history at the Quake City exhibition at the Re:Start Mall.
Christchurch – Picton – Wellington
On your journey to Picton, admire the coastal views, scenic river valleys and vineyards. From there, sail across Cook Strait to experience what has been called “the most beautiful ferry ride in the world.” Your final destination is Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city.
During your panoramic sightseeing tour of Wellington, view the Beehive, New Zealand’s Parliament; historic St. Paul’s Church; and the Old Government Building – the largest wooden building in the Southern Hemisphere. Following the tour, visit the National Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongawera, a fascinating center dedicated to art, history and the Maori culture.
Wellington – Rotorua
Depart for the dramatic geothermal landscape of Rotorua. With over one-third of its population boasting Maori roots, this city is known as the Maori capital of New Zealand. Make yourself right at home this evening when a New Zealand family welcomes you into their home for the night!*** This is sure to be an unforgettable experience as you make new friends, learn about the customs of the “Kiwis,” and enjoy a home-cooked meal.
This morning, visit Te Puia – New Zealand’s premier Maori cultural and geothermal experience. Witness how the Maori keep their culture alive by teaching the tribal youth traditional carving and weaving. Enjoy the chance to view the Kiwi bird and learn what is being done in an effort to remove this marvelous creature from the endangered species list. Next, meet the skilled carvers who work with pounamu, New Zealand greenstone, at a local jade factory. Then, visit the Agrodome where you will see a sheep shearing demonstration and learn about the importance of agriculture to the nation.
Rotorua – Auckland
Travel through the majestic countryside of the North Island, arriving in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, “The City of Sails.” A panoramic city tour features the America’s Cup Village, the War Memorial, vibrant Queen Street, the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and spectacular views from the harbourside. Join your fellow travelers this evening at a local restaurant for a farewell dinner where you will toast the end of a wonderful trip!
Auckland – Tour Ends
Your tour ends in Auckland
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